Good Gurus/centers for Vipassana

#1 Aug 6th, 2017, 14:28
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#1
Hello Folks:

A friend of mine, a doctor by profession, wants to know where one could do a course on Vipassana. i did some research on IndiaMike and some general internet search-but marketing has become the key-irrespective of content quality- and hence would not like to go by those results.

Would appreciate if IMers who have first hand experience or reliable knowledge about such gurus and centers, could opine .
#2 Aug 6th, 2017, 14:57
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#2

Good Gurus/centers for Vipassana

Vipassana was bought to India from East Asia by Goenka Guruji and he established the first center in igatpuri. Slowly more centers were established.
More details on this website.
http://www.dhamma.org/en/index

There is no commercial interests in this form of Vipassana. All courses are free, you may give a donation after doing a course - not mandatory, no one will ask for it. Donations not accepted from those who have not done the course. The first course will be a 10 days course, you can then do one day or three days refresher courses later.
Issue - the courses are often booked for a couple of months ahead quite often.
I have done that, witnessed the operations from close quarters, often recommend the same for my clients as well.
Sar Pass Trek , Rohtang, Munnar, Badrinath Kedarnath, Vaishnodevi, Goa, VOF, Kedarkantha, Kuari Pass, Brahmatal Trek
#3 Aug 6th, 2017, 15:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snotty View Post Vipassana was bought to India from East Asia by Goenka Guruji and he established the first center in igatpuri. Slowly more centers were established.
More details on this website.
http://www.dhamma.org/en/index

There is no commercial interests in this form of Vipassana. All courses are free, you may give a donation after doing a course - not mandatory, no one will ask for it. Donations not accepted from those who have not done the course. The first course will be a 10 days course, you can then do one day or three days refresher courses later.
Issue - the courses are often booked for a couple of months ahead quite often.
I have done that, witnessed the operations from close quarters, often recommend the same for my clients as well.
Thank you, Snotty for your prompt reply. I was looking at the website and was pleasantly surprised to see that some slots for August are still available in Gujarat.
The course seems quite over powering with 'noble silence' to be maintained for 9 days! No other activity, no books, no nothing.

Are there any other centers apart from those established by Shri Goenka?
#4 Aug 6th, 2017, 16:11
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#4
I used to enjoy taking my wife to the Vipassana centre and collecting her afterwards. It got me a one-hour non-silent experience of the place (centre near Chennai), and the atmosphere is just amazing. "Concentrated peace" is what I would call it. But the practice itself... I don't know if it would be good for me, but it would certainly be hard.

Vipassana, Goenka, the experience... search the forum. There are no gurus, but there are helpers, and, whilst, no doubt, they often help, it is not always the case, and, if IM represents a sample, there are at least a few people who have been put off the Vipassana experience by helpers who are not so helpful. Probably a minority. Mrs N has been three or four times: the last time was not so good, and she has not felt like going back. But not-so-good was one time out of the three or four.

Patently, ten days of silence with no interaction with the people around one, and no interaction with the outside world is something few would undertake lightly. This is about as far from a resort with yoga classes as it gets! Torturous endurance test? Refreshing pleasure? There are probably as many responses as there are people, so when considering the experience of others, it is the experience of others. I don't think I could do it, but I would not even try to predict what it would do to me.
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#5 Aug 6th, 2017, 16:36
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#5
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Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post I used to enjoy taking my wife to the Vipassana centre and collecting her afterwards.
I thought that one had to undertake 'noble silence' as they call it for 9 days? So was this the same course that Mrs N took? And if it was so, then in all probability, there would have been silence in the house too? Seriously?

Quote:
Patently, ten days of silence with no interaction with the people around one, and no interaction with the outside world is something few would undertake lightly.
Absolutely. The mind quavers with fear, the body trembles. And remember, no books, no music, no pursuit of any hobby, no nothing. Just silence, just alone.
Quote:
Torturous endurance test? Refreshing pleasure?
Only one way to find out.....

Thanks for your response, Nick. Any idea if there are other (than the Goenka run ones) centers for understanding and developing this technique?
#6 Aug 6th, 2017, 18:23
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#6
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Originally Posted by Earthian View Post And remember, no books, no music, no pursuit of any hobby, no nothing. Just silence, just alone.

It is only silence in regard to other participants; one can speak to the teacher at certain hours, but it is better not to. Besides, participants are busy doing things: doing the practice, following certain instructions, assembling in the hall, giving feedback when asked, going outside after each hour for a brief break, taking meals, drinking etc. In other words, it is not "no nothing" (I know what you mean there, but the void is filled with activity, even if it is mostly endured while sitting still. And that is what such a course is good for. If you are alone, you change your mind regarding your discipline too easily.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earthian View Post Any idea if there are other (than the Goenka run ones) centers for understanding and developing this technique?
In India there is only this institution which teaches this particular technique.

If your friend wants a softer approach to meditation, there is the Bodhi Zendo at Kodaikanal: http://www.bodhisangha.net/index.php/en/home/

Zen sittings are shorter than at Vipassana courses. There is more ritual involved, chanting and stuff. With Goenka style Vipassana there is almost zero ritual. Now Indians introduce ritualistic stuff too in their tendency to guru worship, since Mr Goenka passed away. Originally there is nothing like that in Goenka style Vipassana. Even addressing him as guru is a strange thing to the tradition. But what can you do - it is India...
#7 Aug 6th, 2017, 18:27
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#7

Good Gurus/centers for Vipassana

I think there are others that practice different forms of meditation, but for just Vipassana, I think you have this one only.
My entire family is in it, I am the least frequent practitioner.
As Nick says, it is not something to be taken lightly. It helps many, it can harm a few. There is an effort to stop the later by asking a few questions in the form and trying to screen before the course starts.
Also there is one to one interaction with the teacher in he evenings as a routine to assess and help as required.
The noble silence is there for a reason which is explained during the course, the only person you can interact with is the course teacher.
It seems more hard than what it eventually is for most.
Do not go for the course to just try it out, a positive approach helps settling in.
#8 Aug 6th, 2017, 18:51
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The tough part is the sitting on the cushion for an hour for about 10-12 sessions per day. There is going to be excruciating pain at some point, which is normal, and everyone has to face this. If your friend is not used to sitting on the ground already (either because of being used to doing yoga, or because of the Indian traditional way of sitting on the ground), then the remedy is to ask for the use of a chair. But this has to be done on the application form itself, not during the course. Since everybody is experiencing some level of pain during the course, Assistant Teachers (AT) tend to discourage the use of chairs to participants asking for them during the course itself, and will allow them only in rare exceptions. (Even sitting on a chair for an hour 10-12 sessions per day takes endurance, discipline, patience.)

The way I see it, this enforced toleration of pain creates the wrong perception in the public that meditation mainly means just this: endurance of suffering. This is one negative side of Goenka style Vipassana. People who force themselves against their own best interests through such sittings tend to become fanatics, and there are plenty of mindless fanatics in that organisation. That is what Nick alluded to in his remarks about helpers who do not always help.

Still, even taking some negative points into account, generally these courses lead to an insightful experience in most participants, even in those who do not want to do such a course ever again.
#9 Aug 6th, 2017, 19:11
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atala, I remember being told by someone that they had done something different, which involved silence. I think, but I am not sure, that this was in India (they are Indian) and I think, but I am not sure that the process/guru/whatever was a known name*. Given that I could be wrong about any of that, and I don't have the person on hand to ask... any idea?

Earthian: I was just the driver, dropping her off and collecting her. During that changeover period, others have fairly free access to look around. It is residential: she was there, and I was here, and did not have to remain silent or interrupt my social life on or offline



*Maybe European, not Asian? German?
#10 Aug 6th, 2017, 20:07
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Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post atala, I remember being told by someone that they had done something different, which involved silence. I think, but I am not sure, that this was in India (they are Indian) and I think, but I am not sure that the process/guru/whatever was a known name*. Given that I could be wrong about any of that, and I don't have the person on hand to ask... any idea?
I have no idea what that might be. Generally the silence part is not perceived as a problem. Indians, anyhow, are not very disciplined human beings, sorry to say; they do not take to instructions easily. If one compares such courses in Northern Europe to the same courses in India (and they are formally the exact same), the ones in Europe are 100% strictly followed, while the ones in India are a relatively relaxed affair. One reason may be, that most course centers in India are huge and hundreds of people participate in each course. So one sees people communicating with each other in such courses in India.

Indians break rules without a problem. I think this is the reason why Indian teachers communicate rules so strongly, because Indian people tend not to take them seriously, while Europeans take them over-seriously.

I have seen the same also in other "spiritual" organizations. It is the Westerners that turn them into camps for fanatics, because they take instructions over-zealously.

In the case of Goenka Vipassana, there is some misrepresentation of Buddhist teachings, like the one about burning off sankaras (mental impulses) through non-reaction to the arising of sensations, which is "sold" as motivation to endure pain with patience (aka equanimity, which is doubtful if it is the same). As inquiring study of the teachings of the Buddha is discouraged, strict followers will never find out what he really taught.
#11 Aug 7th, 2017, 10:59
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#11
There's tushita meditation center at Mcleodganj which is a reputed place and a nice alternative to Vipassana, who also have a center at mcleodganj. They have comfier cushions. (I think I put it up as a photopuzzle once).

If that proves too immersive an experience, Jimmy's serves banoffee pie and cold coffee.

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